Thursday, December 9, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 10 December 2010
Matilda's Farmyard Nursery Animals

Meet your favourite baby animals including lambs, chicks, piglets, goats, ducks, guinea pigs & bunnies! Entry is free!

Kids can enter the pen to touch, pat and feed the baby animals. They can even brush the fur of a guinea pig using a toothbrush.

Happy Christmas, borrowers

The Reserve Bank has lent its own little brand of cheer to the festive season this week, deciding to leave the Official Cash Rate (OCR) on hold at 4.75 per cent.

Even better, in a statement announcing the decision Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens hinted that there are not likely to be any further interest rate hikes in the near future.

"Over the next few quarters, inflation is expected to be little changed, though it is likely to increase somewhat over the medium term if the economy grows as expected", Governor Stevens said.

"Following the Board's decision last month to lift the cash rate, and the subsequent increases by financial institutions, lending rates in the economy are now a little above average.

"The Board views this setting of monetary policy as appropriate for the economic outlook", he concluded.

Slow but steady for 2011
Home values continue to fluctuate slightly, with October figures leading industry analysts to predict a sedate performance for residential property in 2011.

RP Data-Rismark's Hedonic Home Value Index shows that Australian capital city dwelling values rose 0.3 per cent, seasonally adjusted, in the month of October 2010.

The report shows that market conditions remain diverse across the key cities, with Perth and Brisbane the only capital city markets where home values have declined over the twelve months to October (down 1.8 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively).

Over the three months to end of October, home values were down 3.8 per cent in Perth and 1.6 per cent in Brisbane.

In contrast, the other major cities recorded improvements in dwelling values over the three months to the end of October. Home values rose in Canberra (up by 2.4 per cent), Darwin (up 1.7 per cent), Sydney (0.8 per cent) and Melbourne (0.5 per cent).

In the first 10 months of the year, Australian capital city dwelling values have risen by a modest 4.3 per cent (seasonally adjusted). This is broadly in line with disposable income growth, according to Rismark International joint managing director, Ben Skilbeck, who pointed out that the national Dwelling Price-to-Disposable Household Income Ratio Index was sitting at around 4.6 times in the second quarter of 2010.

This is consistent with the ratio of home-price-to-income for the preceding seven years.

"The good news is that the current flat-lining in home values should result in a moderation in the national price-to-income ratio and present patient buyers with interesting opportunities in the year ahead."

RP Data's research director, Tim Lawless believes the outlook for residential property is likely to be fairly sedate over the coming 12 months.

"If we use market conditions after the 2000 to 2003 property boom as a guide, month to month value changes saw a mixture of small upwards and downward movements over the following two years with total value growth just 4.7 per cent between December 2003 and December 2005."

Mr Lawless added that unemployment at that time was 5.9 per cent and trending downwards, while the resources sector was heating up.

"In the years ahead the RBA is forecasting very strong household income and employment growth.

"These two factors should help mitigate the impact of higher rate rises and prevent any material decline in prices", he concluded.

Switch and save - your choice

The average Australian family can give themselves an early Christmas present with the hundreds of dollars saved by switching home loans, savings accounts and credit cards to cheaper options, according to consumer advocacy group Choice.

In figures released this week, Choice says that by switching accounts from the big four banks to other providers, mortgage holders can save up to $2,500 a year, credit card holders up to $440 and those with standard savings accounts up to $330*.

The Compare, Ditch and Switch initiative, part of the group's Better Banking campaign, encourages Australians to size up their banking options with the help of an independent online tool.

"You don't have to wait for banking reform to get a better deal. People who are proactive and can spare a few minutes might be surprised at how much they can save," says Better Banking campaign director, Richard Lloyd.

"Too many people are staying in cards, loans and accounts which are costing them too much - switching makes real sense," says Richard Lloyd.

"More mobile and discriminating bank customers help make a more competitive banking system for everyone."

The Compare, Ditch and Switch price comparison tool can be found on the Choice website. It enables consumers to objectively compare credit cards, home loans, savings products and transaction accounts from 89 banks, credit unions, building societies and non-bank lenders.

* The potential savings from switching have been calculated by comparing the yearly cost of the worst `big four' products for savings accounts and credit cards, as well as the yearly cost of the average standard variable rate `big four' home loans, with the best cost alternative on the market today. Costs include interest rates and fees.

The potential annual savings from switching from the mid point big four products to the best rate alternative in the market are $190 for savings accounts and $270 for credit cards.

Industry responds to shortages

The increase in apprenticeship commencements announced this week by the Federal Government is a positive sign that industry is responding to skill shortages by investing in the training of young people, according to the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).

Commenting on the announcement, Ai Group Chief Executive Heather Ridout said that she would like to see the Kickstart Bonus scheme made permanent.

"The traditional trades are a key area to focus on in addressing skill shortages and the growth in apprenticeships needs to be sustained", Ms Ridout remarked.

"The results show that the Kickstart Bonus appears to have been a success in supporting apprenticeships and Ai Group is strongly of the view that there should be some redesign of the incentive to make it permanent.

"Ai Group itself employs well over 500 apprentices yet there remains strong demand from employers to host apprentices and there are plenty of vacancies in the scheme for young people.

"Another promising aspect of today's training data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research is that the number of higher level qualifications (diplomas and advanced diplomas) commenced in 2010 is more than double the number of these qualifications which were commenced in 2009 (8,200 compared to 3,700).

"While this increase is off a low base, we have consistently stressed the need for industry to have access to higher level skills and these statistics show an increased commitment to the building of those higher level skills," Ms Ridout said.

For the butterfly in us all

Christmas in Australia may be far from white, but with many parts of the country experiencing erratic weather, evenings usually spent at the beach or at a BBQ are better spent rugged up on the couch.

One way of making sure the blanket never strays too far from the couch would be to blend the two, and that's just what design studio Les M has done in Cocon.

A cross between sun-lounger and sleeping bag, the armchair provides a snug, comfy pocket to slip into while you read, watch TV or just relax and hibernate.

As if life weren't magical enough

The Harry Potter series has inspired many wishes for a life less-muggle and more magical. While there may not be a real Hogwarts school to attend (at least not publicly recognised), the UK Telegraph reports that a gothic chateau looking remarkably similar has come onto the British market.

Dating back to 1849, the property offers the perfect backdrop for any imagination to run wild, with a 42ft wood-panelled banqueting hall (floating candles not included), circular turrets, mullioned windows, carved fireplaces and balconies (shifting staircases not included) and huge grounds perfect for outdoor activities (Quidditch accessories not included).

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